Bergen notes that David’s confidence in coming against Goliath based on his previous victories over wild animals is motivated, in part, by the thought that the godless Philistine, by blaspheming God, had “reduced himself to the level of a brutish animal.” Gentiles are likened to unclean animals, as can be seen in Peter’s vision of unclean animals, which was really all about God’s acceptance of ‘unclean’ Gentiles. Here’s the extended excerpt from Bergen:
Saul immediately rejected David’s offer. Then, speaking with the battle-tested voice of reason, he reminded David of some obvious but apparently overlooked facts: “You are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth” (v. 33). Saul’s reference to David’s adolescence suggests that David was under twenty years of age, the earliest age at which an Israelite was permitted to serve in the military (cf. Num 1:3; 26:2).
Saul’s royal rejection of David’s offer should have concluded the meeting. However, David’s idealism was exceeded only by his determination and his faith in the Lord. Consequently, he continued his efforts to change the king’s heart. This time David dropped his sermonizing, choosing instead to emphasize his credentials and experience: literally, “[A] shepherd was your servant” (v. 34) who had already been victorious in two previous mortal combats, one with a lion and one with a bear. In each case David “went after” the marauding beast and “struck it.” Then, when the enraged animal “turned on” David, he “seized it by its hair, struck it, and killed it.”
To David’s way of thinking, “the uncircumcised Philistine” had reduced himself to the level of a brutish animal “because he … defied the armies of the living God” (v. 36). Thus, fighting Goliath would be just another fight with a wild beast. The Lord had delivered David “from the hand [“paw”] of the lion and the hand [“paw”] of the bear,” and he would deliver him “from the hand of this Philistine” (v. 37).
Bergen, R. D. (1996). 1, 2 Samuel (Vol. 7, pp. 193–194). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
© 2013, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.